An Evening with the PagansA brief history of paganismOver 25,000 years ago, our ancestors across the continentpracticed an ancient form of religion known as paganism. During theNeolithic and Paleolithic time era, our ancestors were in awe of thegreat manifestations of nature. Due to lack of scientific thought, theywere riddled with ignorance and superstition.
Everything had a supernaturalexplanation. They associated each naturalistic phenomena with a typeof god, inscribing inanimate objects with life -like characteristics . This practice is referred to as animism. Every element ,be it thunder ,rain orthe sun ,was thought to be a god (or goddess) within it. Eventually their gods became an object of worship known as polytheism. Eventually many forms of polytheism evolved to what is known as paganism.
Modern PaganismNow defined as :The worship of a god or goddess whose rootsare in pre-Christian Western Europe. Modern paganism is alive and well today. It consists of many sub-divisions . These include Wicca ,druidismSanteria and many others.Order now
Wicca focuses on the worship of a god and goddess . In Wicca ,there is a plethora of pantheon of deities that onecan choose from including: Greek, Norse ,roman etc. . . .
. . Focusing on a Greek Wiccan tradition ,this will be describing the pagan festival of Hectare. The Festival of HecateThe festival of Hecate is celebrated between the 3rd and 4thSaturday of August. (which ever is closest to the new moon)It is in honor of the Greek goddess Hecate. She was first worshippedin ancient Greece -called the triple goddess of magic.
She is oftenrepresented in triple form ; maiden (youth) ,mother (fertility)and crone (the wise woman). In ancient Rome ,she was known as trevia ,the cross road with three paths. Hecate is symbolized by the phases of the moon. Each attribute correlates with a particular phase of the moon. The waxing moon (maiden),the full moon (mother) and the new moon( crone).
The CeremonyUpon arrival at the festival in Georgetown Delaware,everyone gathers for the lecture. This is to educate the newcomersas to what the ceremony entails. The ceremony is always rehearsedbefore it is performed. After the lecture ,there is a large potluck feast to keep everyone energized for the evenings festivities.
The processionalWhen the sun sets, the processional begins. With everyonein their appropriate magical attire,(consisting of a robe and jewelry)everyone lines up proceeds with the first phase. This is called consecration- each person is consecrated . This is doneby covering the body in incense smoke and sprinkling of water. This is a purification process that cleanses the body of negativeenergy prior to the ritual. Next each person is permitted to enter the circle one by one.
Once everyone is inside the circle, the next phase begins. Calling of the quartersAt this point ,the high priest/priestess begins the callingof the quarters or summoning the elements. Each direction is markedby an altar and each is represented by an element. West =air, east=water , north=earth and south=fire. The high priestapproaches each point ,says a chant and ends the chant with thephrase “”hail and welcome””.
After the elements are called , the highpoint of the ritual begins the invocationThe InvocationThe invocation is where the goddess is invited to attendthe ceremony. The invitation is done through a series of chants . Ex: “”He Kau ,He Kau , He Kau””Hecate trevia trimorphos Hecate queen of the moon and all her phases”” 3 X”s (Hek a ta)Next 3 women are chosen to represent Hecate ,each representingone of her aspects. (they are chosen prior to the ritual) The maiden is inwhite (purity) the mother in red (fertility) and crone in black(wisdom)These women remain in the circle. At this point the goddess speaks to the participants .
Each onegives a brief message ,usually a blessing or advice. Once the cronehas finished, each participant is invited to approach any of the threeforms and speak to them. They may ask for advice ,offering or a boon. Once everyone has had their turn to speak with Hecate,the group becomes silent. The goddess is thanked and dismissed. Sometimes during a ritual a participant may feel a bitoverwhelmed with the energy that has been raised.
It is for this reason ,that the next phase ,called grounding takes place. This is done by simply placing the hands on the ground and releasingthe energy. Once the grounding has been performed,it is time to close the quarters or dismiss the elements. Like the opening , the high priest approaches each element,says a chant but this time ends with “”hail and farewell””Once the elements are dismissed, it is time to close the circle. This is done by the whole group.
Closing the CircleA special chant is recited to close the circle :””The circle is closed but yet unbroken,Merry meet, merry part ,and merry meet again. Blessed Be !””At this time ,each participant leaves the circle exiting from the pointat which they entered. Again feasting of food commences ,along withspirited conversation. Religious ceremonies play an integral role in our society. Paganism fills the social ,physical and cognitive role that mainstreamreligions provide.
References Sited 1)Adler, Margot 1993 “”Drawing Down the Moon”” Full Moon Pub. Phoenix ,AZ 356 pgs. 2)Murray ,Margaret “”The Witch Cult of western Europe””Westin House Press Ny,NY 212pgs.